RSF launches hotline for journalists covering urban violence in France
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) is launching an “urban violence hotline” to meet the urgent needs of journalists covering the unrest in France following the fatal shooting of a 17-year-old youth by a policeman in the Parisian suburb of Nanterre on 27 June. The aim is to provide essential assistance to those doing their job to report the news in an explosive environment.
Available seven days a week, the “RSF urban violence hotline” offers journalists covering urban violence direct access to emergency services. Journalists will be able to report any violence or abusive treatment to which they have been subjected, and to receive legal advice, psychological assistance, loans of protective equipment and training in safety for reporters in the field.
The RSF hotline can be accessed via a dedicated telephone number and secure communication methods. It has been created jointly with lawyers and psychologists and will offer the following services:
Legal assistance, help with filing complaints: A group of criminal lawyers with the Vigo law firm stand ready to provide legal advice and assistance with filing judicial procedures or with protective measures against arbitrary police action. Journalists requesting legal assistance will be put in contact with these lawyers.
Loans of equipment: Protective helmets and vests. This equipment is primarily intended for freelance journalists and those working for organisations that do not have their own protective equipment.
Safety training: The aim is to enable journalists covering urban violence to better anticipate potentially violent situations, to acquire good practices that limit risks, and to learn the main protective measures they should take in the event of an attack. The first training sessions will take place at 3 p.m. on 1 July and 2 July at RSF headquarters in Paris.
Safety manual: The Safety Guide for Journalists that RSF has been publishing since 1992 offers practical advice to journalists who are going to high risk areas or who are reporting in an extremely tense environment. The guide is available at the RSF website (www.rsf.org).
Psychological assistance: If journalists express the need, RSF can provide them with assistance from professional psychologists who work constantly with RSF.
“The increase in attacks on journalists is a major source of concern for RSF. Reporters are vital observers of these news developments. We cannot accept that they are caught between protesters, rioters and law enforcement. As we do all over the world, it is our duty to call on all the protagonists to show the utmost restraint and to propose concrete solutions. By means of this hotline, we want to provide journalists with concrete support.
In tandem with this urban violence hotline, RSF will monitor full and effective implementation of the National Law Enforcement Plan (SNMO) in order to combat police violence. RSF calls on the police to respect the essential role that journalists have to play, and to guarantee their safety.